Today is World Asthma Day! Take Action to Make a Difference!

Today is World Asthma Day, and no matter where you live you can show your support for reducing the burden of asthma on children and families in communities across the country.

We need your help to tackle this chronic condition. Over 34 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma and the related costs are enormous: $56 billion in medical fees, lost school and work days and early deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Some communities suffer more than others. African-Americans, for example, have higher asthma prevalence and have rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits that are much higher than other racial groups.  There are also disparities based on income with low-income families experiencing higher rates of emergency department and hospital visits than wealthier families.

That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: we can turn this around. You can make a difference. This year’s World Asthma Day theme is “It’s Time to Control Asthma.” Wherever you live, there are plenty of ways you can help:

Support the National Asthma Control Program
Tomorrow, May 8th, please join us in contacting your U.S. Senators to urge them to support the National Asthma Control Program. This Asthma Call-in Day, sponsored by the American Lung Association, is a great chance to show our support for the one national program dedicated exclusively to improving the lives of people with asthma through education, training, data collection, and systems change.Mark your calendar now to help!

Say ‘Yes’ to Pest-Free Housing in California
RAMP is co-sponsoring SB 488 (Hueso), which will help ensure that all tenants, regardless of where they live, will have help to keep their homes pest-free. Specifically, the bill will give authority to determine pest infestations to local code enforcement officers in jurisdictions without the services of a Health Officer. Because of the clear links between exposure to pests and asthma and because substandard housing conditions are more common in the same low income communities and communities of color where we find the strongest disparities in asthma prevalence and outcomes (such as hospitalizations), addressing this loophole is an important step in addressing the social and environmental inequities that contribute to asthma disparities. Show your support for pest-free housing by submitting a letter to Senator Hueso’s office!

Ask Bay Area Policymakers to Make Healthy Planning Decisions
Land use and transportation planning decisions can have a big impact on air pollution levels, which in turn can help – or hurt – those with asthma. Do we have to drive far to get to work? Is there good public transit that helps take cars off the road? Can we walk to neighborhood services and help keep the air clean? Several Bay Area regional planning agencies are developing a plan called a Sustainable Communities Strategy that will help answer those questions for years to come. Now is a key moment in the development of the plan, and if you would like to voice your support for clean air and public health, please contact RAMP Policy Associate Azibuike Akaba by Thursday, May 9th to learn how.

Speak Out Wherever You Are!
There are so many things you can do to spread awareness and take action in support of reducing the burden of asthma. Want to join a local event? Write a letter to your local paper? Post something to your Twitter or Facebook pages? Contact your elected officials? There are plenty of resources, tips, calendars, and more offered through the Asthma Community Network, the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition, and the Global Initiative for Asthma. You can also stay connected by subscribing to RAMP’s Facebook and Twitter sites. Dive in and get involved!

Thank you for your efforts to manage and prevent asthma, and to create healthier families and communities.

Warmest regards,
Anne Kelsey Lamb, MPH